The Journey from Kadesh Barnea to Moab
1 Then we turned and set out toward the desert land on the way to the Red Sea#tn Heb “Reed Sea.” See note on the term “Red Sea” in Deut 1:40. just as the Lord told me to do, detouring around Mount Seir for a long time. 2 At this point the Lord said to me, 3 “You have circled around this mountain long enough; now turn north. 4 Instruct#tn Heb “command” (so KJV, NASB); NRSV “charge the people as follows.” these people as follows: ‘You are about to cross the border of your relatives#tn Heb “brothers”; NAB “your kinsmen.” the descendants of Esau,#sn The descendants of Esau (Heb “sons of Esau”; the phrase also occurs in 2:8, 12, 22, 29). These are the inhabitants of the land otherwise known as Edom, south and east of the Dead Sea. Jacob’s brother Esau had settled there after his bitter strife with Jacob (Gen 36:1-8). “Edom” means “reddish,” probably because of the red sandstone of the region, but also by popular etymology because Esau, at birth, was reddish (Gen 25:25). who inhabit Seir. They will be afraid of you, so watch yourselves carefully. 5 Do not be hostile toward them, because I am not giving you any of their land, not even a footprint, for I have given Mount Seir#sn Mount Seir is synonymous with Edom. as an inheritance for Esau. 6 You may purchase#tn Heb includes “with silver.” food to eat and water to drink from them. 7 All along the way I, the Lord your God,#tn The Hebrew text does not have the first person pronoun; it has been supplied for purposes of English style (the Lord is speaking here). have blessed your every effort.#tn Heb “all the work of your hands.” I have#tn Heb “he has.” This has been converted to first person in the translation in keeping with English style. been attentive to#tn Heb “known” (so ASV, NASB); NAB “been concerned about.” your travels through this great wasteland. These forty years I have#tn Heb “the Lord your God has.” This has been replaced in the translation by the first person pronoun (“I”) in keeping with English style. been with you; you have lacked for nothing.’”
8 So we turned away from our relatives#tn Or “brothers”; NRSV “our kin.” the descendants of Esau, the inhabitants of Seir, turning from the desert route,#tn Heb “the way of the Arabah” (so ASV); NASB, NIV “the Arabah road.” from Elat#sn Elat was a port city at the head of the eastern arm of the Red Sea, that is, the Gulf of Aqaba (or Gulf of Eilat). Solomon (1 Kgs 9:28), Uzziah (2 Kgs 14:22), and Ahaz (2 Kgs 16:5-6) used it as a port but eventually it became permanently part of Edom. It may be what is known today as Tell el-Kheleifeh. Modern Eilat is located further west along the northern coast. See G. Pratico, “Nelson Glueck’s 1938-1940 Excavations at Tell el-Kheleifeh: A Reappraisal,” BASOR 259 (1985): 1-32. and Ezion Geber,#sn Ezion Geber. A place near the Gulf of Aqaba, Ezion-geber must be distinguished from Elat (cf. 1 Kgs 9:26-28; 2 Chr 8:17-18). It was, however, also a port city (1 Kgs 22:48-49). It may be the same as the modern site Gezirat al-Fauran, 15 mi (24 km) south-southwest from Tell el-Kheleifah. and traveling the way of the Moab wastelands. 9 Then the Lord said to me, “Do not harass Moab and provoke them to war, for I will not give you any of their land as your territory. This is because I have given Ar#sn Ar was a Moabite city on the Arnon River east of the Dead Sea. It is mentioned elsewhere in the “Book of the Wars of Yahweh” (Num 21:15; cf. 21:28; Isa 15:1). Here it is synonymous with the whole land of Moab. to the descendants of Lot#sn The descendants of Lot. Following the destruction of the cities of the plain, Sodom and Gomorrah, as God’s judgment, Lot fathered two sons by his two daughters, namely, Moab and Ammon (Gen 19:30-38). Thus, these descendants of Lot in and around Ar were the Moabites. as their possession. 10 (The Emites#sn Emites. These giant people, like the Anakites (Deut 1:28), were also known as Rephaites (v. 11). They appear elsewhere in the narrative of the invasion of the kings of the east where they are said to have lived around Shaveh Kiriathaim, perhaps 9 to 11 mi (15 to 18 km) east of the north end of the Dead Sea (Gen 14:5). used to live there, a people as powerful, numerous, and tall as the Anakites. 11 These people, as well as the Anakites, are also considered Rephaites;#sn Rephaites. The earliest reference to this infamous giant race is, again, in the story of the invasion of the eastern kings (Gen 14:5). They lived around Ashteroth Karnaim, probably modern Tell Ashtarah (cf. Deut 1:4), in the Bashan plateau east of the Sea of Galilee. Og, king of Bashan, was a Rephaite (Deut 3:11; Josh 12:4; 13:12). Other texts speak of them or their kinfolk in both Transjordan (Deut 2:20; 3:13) and Canaan (Josh 11:21-22; 14:12, 15; 15:13-14; Judg 1:20; 1 Sam 17:4; 1 Chr 20:4-8). They also appear in extra-biblical literature, especially in connection with the city state of Ugarit. See C. L’Heureux, “Ugaritic and Biblical Rephaim,” HTR 67 (1974): 265-74. the Moabites call them Emites. 12 Previously the Horites#sn Horites. Most likely these are the same as the well-known people of ancient Near Eastern texts described as Hurrians. They were geographically widespread and probably non-Semitic. Genesis speaks of them as the indigenous peoples of Edom that Esau expelled (Gen 36:8-19, 31-43) and also as among those who confronted the kings of the east (Gen 14:6). lived in Seir but the descendants of Esau dispossessed and destroyed them and settled in their place, just as Israel did to the land it came to possess, the land the Lord gave them.)#tn Most modern English versions, beginning with the ASV (1901), regard vv. 10-12 as parenthetical to the narrative. 13 Now, get up and cross the Wadi Zered.”#sn Wadi Zered. Now known as Wadi el-H£esa, this valley marked the boundary between Moab to the north and Edom to the south. So we did so.#tn Heb “we crossed the Wadi Zered.” This has been translated as “we did so” for stylistic reasons, to avoid redundancy. 14 Now the length of time it took for us to go from Kadesh Barnea to the crossing of Wadi Zered was thirty-eight years, time for all the military men of that generation to die, just as the Lord had vowed to them. 15 Indeed, it was the very hand of the Lord that eliminated them from within#tn Heb “from the middle of.” Although many recent English versions leave this expression untranslated, the point seems to be that these soldiers did not die in battle but “within the camp.” the camp until they were all gone.
Instructions Concerning Ammon
16 So it was that after all the military men had been eliminated from the community,#tn Heb “and it was when they were eliminated, all the men of war, to die from the midst of the people.” 17 the Lord said to me, 18 “Today you are going to cross the border of Moab, that is, of Ar.#sn Ar. See note on this word in Deut 2:9. 19 But when you come close to the Ammonites, do not harass or provoke them because I am not giving you any of the Ammonites’ land as your possession; I have already given it to Lot’s descendants#sn Lot’s descendants. See note on this phrase in Deut 2:9. as their possession.
20 (That also is considered to be a land of the Rephaites.#sn Rephaites. See note on this word in Deut 2:11. The Rephaites lived there originally; the Ammonites call them Zamzummites.#sn Zamzummites. Just as the Moabites called Rephaites by the name Emites, the Ammonites called them Zamzummites (or Zazites; Gen 14:5). 21 They are a people as powerful, numerous, and tall as the Anakites. But the Lord destroyed the Rephaites#tn Heb “them”; the referent (the Rephaites) has been specified in the translation for clarity. in advance of the Ammonites,#tn Heb “them”; the referent (the Ammonites) has been specified in the translation for clarity. so they dispossessed them and settled down in their place. 22 This is exactly what he did for the descendants of Esau who lived in Seir when he destroyed the Horites before them so that they could dispossess them and settle in their area to this very day. 23 As for the Avvites#sn Avvites. Otherwise unknown, these people were probably also Anakite (or Rephaite) giants who lived in the lower Mediterranean coastal plain until they were expelled by the Caphtorites. who lived in settlements as far west as Gaza, Caphtorites#sn Caphtorites. These peoples are familiar from both the OT (Gen 10:14; 1 Chr 1:12; Jer 47:4; Amos 9:7) and ancient Near Eastern texts (Miriam Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature, 2:37-38; ANET 138). They originated in Crete (OT “Caphtor”) and are identified as the ancestors of the Philistines (Gen 10:14; Jer 47:4). who came from Crete#tn Heb “Caphtor”; the modern name of the island of Crete is used in the translation for clarity (cf. NCV, TEV, NLT). destroyed them and settled down in their place.)
24 Get up, make your way across Wadi Arnon. Look! I have already delivered over to you Sihon the Amorite, king of Heshbon,#sn Heshbon is the name of a prominent site (now Tell Hesba„n, about 7.5 mi [12 km] south southwest of Amman, Jordan). Sihon made it his capital after having driven Moab from the area and forced them south to the Arnon (Num 21:26-30). Heshbon is also mentioned in Deut 1:4. and his land. Go ahead! Take it! Engage him in war! 25 This very day I will begin to fill all the people of the earth#tn Heb “under heaven” (so NIV, NRSV). with dread and to terrify them when they hear about you. They will shiver and shake in anticipation of your approach.”#tn Heb “from before you.”
Defeat of Sihon, King of Heshbon
26 Then I sent messengers from the Kedemoth#sn Kedemoth. This is probably Aleiyan, about 8 mi (13 km) north of the Arnon and between Dibon and Mattanah. Desert to King Sihon of Heshbon with an offer of peace: 27 “Let me pass through your land; I will keep strictly to the roadway.#tn Heb “in the way in the way” (בַּדֶּרֶךְ בַּדֶּרֶךְ, baderekh baderekh). The repetition lays great stress on the idea of resolute determination to stick to the path. IBHS 116 §7.2.3c. I will not turn aside to the right or the left. 28 Sell me food for cash#tn Heb “silver.” so that I can eat and sell me water to drink.#tn Heb “and water for silver give to me so that I may drink.” Just allow me to go through on foot, 29 just as the descendants of Esau who live at Seir and the Moabites who live in Ar did for me, until I cross the Jordan to the land the Lord our God is giving us.” 30 But King Sihon of Heshbon was unwilling to allow us to pass near him because the Lord our#tc The translation follows the LXX in reading the first person pronoun. The MT, followed by many English versions, has a second person masculine singular pronoun, “your.” God had made him obstinate#tn Heb “hardened his spirit” (so KJV, NASB, NRSV); NIV “made his spirit stubborn.” and stubborn#tn Heb “made his heart obstinate” (so KJV, NASB); NRSV “made his heart defiant.” so that he might deliver him over to you#tn Heb “into your hand.” this very day. 31 The Lord said to me, “Look! I have already begun to give over Sihon and his land to you. Start right now to take his land as your possession.” 32 When Sihon and all his troops#tn Heb “people.” emerged to encounter us in battle at Jahaz,#sn Jahaz. This is probably Khirbet el-Medeiyineh. See J. Dearman, “The Levitical Cities of Reuben and Moabite Toponymy,” BASOR 276 (1984): 55-57. 33 the Lord our God delivered him over to us and we struck him down, along with his sons#tc The translation follows the Qere or marginal reading; the Kethib (consonantal text) has the singular, “his son.” and everyone else.#tn Heb “all his people.” 34 At that time we seized all his cities and put every one of them#tn Heb “every city of men.” This apparently identifies the cities as inhabited. under divine judgment,#tn Heb “under the ban” (נַחֲרֵם, nakharem). The verb employed is חָרַם (kharam, usually in the Hiphil) and the associated noun is חֵרֶם (kherem). See J. Naudé, NIDOTTE, 2:276-77, and, for a more thorough discussion, Susan Niditch, War in the Hebrew Bible, 28-77.sn Divine judgment refers to God’s designation of certain persons, places, and things as objects of his special wrath and judgment because, in his omniscience, he knows them to be impure and hopelessly unrepentant. including even the women and children; we left no survivors. 35 We kept only the livestock and plunder from the cities for ourselves. 36 From Aroer,#sn Aroer. Now known as àAraáir on the northern edge of the Arnon river, Aroer marked the southern limit of Moab and, later, of the allotment of the tribe of Reuben (Josh 13:9, 16). which is at the edge of Wadi Arnon (it is the city in the wadi),#tn Heb “the city in the wadi.” This enigmatic reference may refer to Ar or, more likely, to Aroer itself. Epexegetically the text might read, “From Aroer…, that is, the city in the wadi.” See D. L. Christensen, Deuteronomy 1–11 (WBC), 49. all the way to Gilead there was not a town able to resist us – the Lord our God gave them all to us. 37 However, you did not approach the land of the Ammonites, the Wadi Jabbok,#sn Wadi Jabbok. Now known as the Zerqa River, this is a major tributary of the Jordan that normally served as a boundary between Ammon and Gad (Deut 3:16). the cities of the hill country, or any place else forbidden by the Lord our God.